You’re Doing It Wrong: Washing Your Face


We do it every day (hopefully), yet many of us don’t wash our faces correctly. Dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD points out the many mistakes he sees patients making in regards to cleansing their skin.

“Many people are confused about the correct way to cleanse their skin,” says Dr. Perricone. “Whether you are in your teens, 20s or have mature skin, the basics are the same: To avoid irritation, stay away from scrubbing grains, abrasive pads/washcloths, alcohol-based toners and astringents. These can disturb the normal skin pH and produce inflammation and dryness that will age and damage the skin.”

So how do we correctly wash our faces? “Cleansing in the morning and before bedtime will keep the skin fresh and comfortable. Use warm and not hot water. The very best way to cleanse the skin is in the shower, as this will ensure that all of the cleanser is thoroughly rinsed from the skin. I like to pump the cleanser directly onto a small all-natural sea sponge. This lathers up well. Massage onto damp skin in gentle, circular motions. Rinse thoroughly and gently pat the face dry.”

Dr. Perricone also lists his don’ts when it comes to face washing: Don’t over-wash the skin and don’t use drying or antibacterial soaps. “Choose liquid cleansers that are applied by hand, then rinsed off thoroughly with lukewarm water. This style of gentle, yet thorough, cleansing will remove stale oil, dirt and dead dry cells without damaging or drying the skin.” If your skin is oily or acne-prone, Dr. Perricone advises a non-drying pore minimizing toner that can be used throughout the day as needed to keep skin fresh and radiant.

Now we come to the all-important question—to exfoliate or not to exfoliate? “The bad news is that many scrubs, exfoliators and peels are unnecessarily harsh. In fact some contain highly abrasive ingredients that can damage skin.” Instead Dr. Perricone advises treating your skin to cleansers that are non-drying and gentle, yet possess the ability to thoroughly cleanse, thereby properly preparing the skin for treatment and moisture.”

Read more: How to (Correctly) Apply Topical Acne Medication

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